Saturday, June 19, hundreds of Woburn residents joined local organizations to observe and honor Juneteenth Independence Day. Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people within the United States, observed annually on June 19th. Just two days before our Juneteenth Woburn event, President Biden signed a law making Juneteenth a national holiday.
The event included a Juneteenth flag raising with Mayor Galvin, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and local elected officials including State Representative Richard Haggerty, State Senator Cindy Friedman, City Councilors Robert Ferullo and Jeff Dillon, and School Committee members Colleen Cormier, Ellen Crowley, Andrew Lipsett and Michael Mulrenan. SCI’s Deputy Director Phil Gordon and St. John’s Baptist Church Deacon Ron Walker performed the ceremonial flag raising honors.
The flag raising was followed by a speaking lineup of community members and student leaders who provided background on the history of Juneteenth and reflections on its meaning today in the ongoing quest for a more equitable society. The speeches were followed by a series of children’s activities, including storytime with school committee members Ellen Crowley and Michael Mulrenan.
The Juneteenth Woburn guest of honor retired was Retired Air Force Colonel and member of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., Clifton E. Reed, who held an open Q&A on the Tuskegee Airmen in the Woburn Public Library Program Room.
I would like to say a big thank you to the following organizations who joined with SCI to coordinate and support this event: the City of Woburn, Cummings Properties, embRACE Club, Gourmet Kreyol, the James L. McKeown Boys & Girls Club of Woburn, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the NAACP Mystic Valley Branch, St. John's Baptist Church, the Woburn Democratic City Committee, the Woburn Public Library, Woburn Public Schools, Woburn United Methodist Church, and Woburn Welcomes.
There are several individuals whom I would like to highlight for their leadership and extensive efforts in making the event a success. First, our event committee chairs, Phil Gordon, Jennifer Baker Jones and Lipsett. Next, a special thank you to Hermayne Gordon, Assistant Director of the Woburn Public Library, for hosting the event and working with the rest of the Library team to create information displays and book selections for Juneteenth. Mike West from St. John’s Baptist Church for all his help with the audiovisual aspects of the program. A special thanks to goes out to Zane Crute, President of the Mystic Valley Branch of the NAACP for all of his support and guidance.
We had a very strong committee of volunteers, too long to list here. Thanks to all of them for their participation in this inaugural Juneteenth event!